Courtesy Warner Bros

People have talked a lot about a lack of original ideas in Hollywood. When we went to see The Hobbit, some douche behind us commented that ‘there aren’t any original movies anymore’. I’d like to cite just two examples of how wrong that sentiment is.

One of them is Oblivion. “Now wait,” you might be saying, “isn’t Oblivion based on a graphic novel and therefore not an original movie idea?” Normally, you might be right, but since the director of the film is also the author of the graphic novel, I’d say this qualifies. Post-apocalyptic sci-fi isn’t anything new, but the concept of this one has a unique feel to it: When Earth is invaded, mankind apparently has its act together enough to evacuate. Jack Harper is one of those left behind, grabbing what resources he can and repairing the drones that defeated the invaders but left the planet a bit scorched. Not all is as it seems, however, as Jack discovers humans on the planet’s surface…

What fascinates me about Oblivion is its acknowledgement that, even in the wake of sweeping disaster, life goes on. The world doesn’t simply wink out of existence. There is an aftermath to be dealt with. There’s a lot of lonely desolation in the trailer, juxtaposed with the shiny technology the actors are using, and the austerity of the visuals feels very striking. Plus, the author of the graphic novel and director of this film also directed Tron: Legacy, and other critics be damned, I liked Tron: Legacy.

The other film I’m very much looking forward to that exemplifies original sci-fi is Pacific Rim. Now, again, there’s clearly a heavy influence on the project, but rather than one source, Pacific Rim is more inspired by a genre than a single work, and that genre is the daikaiju films that usually feature Godzilla or Gamera. Instead of being post-apocalypse, we witness the start of the apocalypse as giant interdimensional monsters rise from the depths of the sea to wreck devastation upon mankind. To fight them, we build giant robots called Jaegers that match them in size & stature, and pilots use neural links to control the Jaegers from afar. Things are apparently getting worse, though, as the monsters are barely slowed down by the Jaegers and it seems to be a losing battle…

This is a notion that feels truly international. Daikaiju are mostly Japanese, yet here we have an American film with an extremely similar feel with a multi-racial cast directed by Mexican geek favorite Guillermo del Toro. Given his success with the Hellboy films (both of which I really like) and Pan’s Labyrinth (which made me weep like a child but in a good way), I’d trust him with pretty much anything, but this feels so uniquely his idea it’s staggering. I’m really curious to see what he does here. Oh, and is that Ellen McLain voicing the Jaeger AI? Definitely count me in, even if they don’t turn evil or constantly berate the humans involved.

What movies in 2013 are you looking forward to? And what do you think of the sentiment that Hollywood has no original ideas?